Russia's influential Orthodox Church and members of its parliament are working together to push legislation that would restrict abortions.

The legislation — promoted Monday by the head of the parliamentary committee on families, women and children — would ban free abortions at government-run clinics.

Russia has one of the world's lowest fertility rates, while the number of abortions is among the highest in the world.

This is of serious concern for Russia as it fights to stem a steep population decline.

Committee leader Yelena Mizulina said she wants to see public debate on abortions before the legislation is submitted to parliament.

Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin said the goal is to "live in a Russia without abortions."